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Meerkat family - AIR RAID ALERT!!!

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Uploaded on Oct 11, 2008

An ultralight plane causes alarm with the meerkat group. You can hear the typical alarm sounds, a kind of yelping-barking, from many members of the group. The pups only reappear when the alarm calms down.

They make different sounds when they are disturbed by animals on the ground (they ignore most dogs but will gang up on some, and there is a roaming cat that they despise deeply.)

In the second part of the video, adult male Plattohr (Flat-Ears) keeps a close eye on a paraglider. Flat-Ears is one of the most vigilant and reliable sentries in the group, it's him who can also be seen in my video "meerkat guard duty" http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf5HHP3... and his classic sentry poses have also been used for several of the meerkat silhouttes at http://en.dawanda.com/shop/gokuki
He is the eternal rival of dominant male Jolly Roger.

The meerkat group react quite differently to the aerial encounters made in this location:

* Passenger jet planes high in the sky - usually ignored, but at sunset, when they are caught and illuminated in the sky by the last rays of the sun, they are watched closely, but an alarm is never raised-

* Small propeller planes (Cessna etc), low flying - sometimes completely ignored (i.e. not even the head is raised), sometimes watched. Since there is a small airport nearby, they know these planes very well, and understand they pose no danger. In general the sound of the classic piston engine aircraft is associated with "not dangerous", you can often hear an engine drone in parts of the videos I have posted

* Anything that has a triangular shape like hang gliders, ultralights - will usually cause an intense warning. It is worse when the flying object is silent (like hang gliders) - this will usually cause an at least partial retreat of the family into the burrow. A silent slowly moving object with swept wings probably reminds them most of a predatory bird.

* Hot air balloons - they do not like these at all. Although they are usually distant, the silent, looming presence on the horizon seems to disturb the meerkats deeply. They will usually watch these intently and most activity will cease until they disappear.

* Zeppelins - we don't get these very frequently but when the "Zeppelin NT" flew over the enclosure at low altitude one afternoon it was considered the ultimate enemy. The meerkats raised alarm, disappeared into the burrow and did not reappear for the rest of the day!

Reactions to birds are also varied.

* Storks - There is a stork nest in direct line of sight and they are accustomed to them. Although sometimes there are several pairs of storks wheeling higher in the sky and this will sometimes fix their attention.

* starlings - the meerkats managed to eat one of those

* sparrows - they hop about freely in the enclosure and use it for sand-baths. Males Plattohr and Orlok occasionally chase them but have never made a kill during the times we watched; the pups also love to chase them.

* peacocks - there are free-roaming peacocks in the animal park and the meerkats have a deep hatred for them. When the adult males present today in the group were juveniles, the peacocks used to intrude into the enclosure and gobble up their mice before the meerkats could eat them - until one day the kats ganged up on them and pulled their tail feathers. Ever since the peacocks have been much more wary to enter the enclosure. We have seen similar confrontations documented from other places such as Leipzig zoo, it seems meerkats and peacocks are natural enemies (penguins also hate peacocks :) The annoying cries of the peacocks will also sometimes cause irritated barking from the meerkats

* magpies and crows - these are potentially dangerous to very young pups and there was heightened observation when the pups were very young; otherwise they are ignored except when a magpie alights on the fence of the enclosure, when it will be closely watched

* Ostriches - just kidding, these live not far away from the meerkats but there is no line of sight and so they have never met !


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To find out more about the Mundenhof mob, a nine-member group of meerkats living in a free admission animal park in Freiburg, Germany, also see "Mundenhof Mob Manor" http://mundenhof-mob.blogspot.com

Pics at http://div.crws.net/2008/2004-2008/ and
http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/myp...

TheMundenhof kats are also featured on some of the hand-made meerkat tote bags and other products at http://en.dawanda.com/shop/gokuki?pag...

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